White House extends health care signup deadline by one day

HONOLULU — Federal officials said Monday that they would extend by 24 hours Monday night’s deadline to sign up for Jan. 1 coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The announcement came as President Barack Obama signed up for a bronze health care plan in his signature program over the weekend, signaling his confidence.

The deadline change will allow Americans to get coverage at the beginning of the year if they enroll before 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve. It was extended by federal officials in anticipation of increased demand for enrollment on the troubled federal website.

Federal officials said they extended the deadline to ensure that Americans signing up for plans at the last minute would be able to do so and the change was made so that the system, which has been plagued by problems, could handle heavy online traffic on the deadline day.

“The deadline for signing up for coverage to start January 1 is today,” said Julie Bataille, director of Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Office of Communications in a statement Monday.

“We recognize that many have chosen to make their final decisions on today’s deadline and we are committed to making sure they can do so.”

It remained unclear whether the change would apply to those states that offer their own exchanges.

California’s health insurance exchange said it just learned of the federal government’s postponed deadline and hadn’t decided whether to make a similar move. For now, Monday remains the sign-up deadline at the Covered California exchange.

“We are working on developing a position,” said Covered California spokesman Dana Howard.

The president signed up for coverage through the DC marketplace over the weekend though he receives health care from the military, as every president has.

White House officials said the president signed up for insurance coverage as a symbolic act and was pleased to “participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces which are providing quality, affordable health care options to more than a million people.”

The president chose a bronze plan, which is the least expensive of those available on the exchange.


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